Tag Archives: baking

6 Low-Key Date Ideas for the Fall Season

foliage

As the leaves begin to turn and the themed aisles of Target quickly turn from back-to-school to an odd combination of both Halloween and Christmas, there’s no arguing autumn is in full swing. In previous years, this is usually the time when I accept that I won’t see my husband until the end of March due to a busy basketball-centered travel and work schedule. However, the beginning of this summer brought about a promotion and change of work responsibilities for J, and he’s no longer at the office until nine every evening or on road trips through the weekends. With a new found ability to spend more time together this fall and winter, I thought I’d brainstorm and share some inexpensive and low-key “date” ideas for the months ahead.

1. Spend a Saturday afternoon at a local watering hole sharing a pitcher and watching college football
Even non-sports enthusiasts can appreciate the atmosphere of a cold drink, greasy appetizers, and cheers from fans on game day.

2. Head to the kitchen together and spend the day making each other’s favorite cookies
With the exception of after-dinner dishes and heating up frozen pizza, J pretty much avoids the kitchen at all costs. However, if anything is going to lure him in, it’s the promise of cookies. This is a great opportunity to turn off the TV, put aside the cell phones, and maybe even learn something new about each other.

3. Paint a wall in your home and share takeout pizza when it’s complete
Quality time together and little home improvement? Sounds like a win in my book! Painting just one wall is an inexpensive and easy way to add a quick update to a tired space. If you’re anything like us, you’ll appreciate spending the money on paint and supplies much longer than you would a date out.

4. Carve pumpkins and enjoy a meal from the slow cooker
Throw your favorite one-pot meal or stew in the slow cooker and spend a Sunday afternoon carving pumpkins outside. When you come back in you’ll have a hot meal waiting for you to enjoy. This would be an awesome date-in to invite another couple to share in.

5. Go for a hike – or head out on a geocaching adventure
As part of our anniversary date last month, J planned an 8-mile hike and picnic around a local state park. It was fun to get a little lost together and enjoy the peacefulness of our surroundings. I also had a really fun time pretending to see snakes so J would freak out. I think we would love the added adventure of geocaching with our phones and finding “treasure” at the end.

6. Create your own Oktoberfest tasting
So many beer and wine stores around us are now offering customers the option to create their own six packs by purchasing individual bottles of premium beers. This is a great way to try new brands and flavors without too much commitment or expense. Head out with your partner and select a handful of pumpkin or Oktoberfest beers to try and then take back to your home to pour and share while you discuss what you like and don’t like.

Do you have a favorite or go-to low-key date? What’s something small you’re looking forward to enjoying this season?

Advertisements

Recipe: Whole Wheat Apricot Walnut Muffins

Image

A couple of weeks ago I found myself thinking about a muffin recipe my mom made when I was growing up. Filled with dried apricots, chopped walnuts, and hearty oats, these muffins had just the perfect hint of sweetness and spice.

When I asked my mom about the recipe she happily jotted it down and mailed it my way (PS – thanks, Mom!). Her recipe calls for all-purpose flour, but I had some downtime this weekend and thought it was the perfect opportunity to put my own spin on the muffins using whole wheat flour. Enjoy!

Image

Whole Wheat Apricot Walnut Muffins Makes approximately 16 regular sized muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour*
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar loosely packed
1 tablespoon baking powder
2/3 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (see bottom for pumpkin pie spice ratio)
1/2 cup dried old fashioned oats
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
1/2 cup canola oil

How to Make:
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place paper or silicone muffin liners in muffin pan and spritz with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Set aside.
2. Combine flour, sugars, salt, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and dried oats in a large bowl.
3. Add chopped apricots and walnuts to flour mixture and stir to combine.
4. In a separate bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil.
5. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and stir until moistened.
6. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin cups until 2/3 full.
7. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top. Muffins should feel firm to the touch.
8. Remove lined muffins from pan and place on wire rack to cool.

Notes:
*I used Trader Joe’s brand whole wheat flour, but King Arthur is also a great option. If you prefer white all-purpose baking flour, it will also do the trick.
Store muffins in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
Original recipe source unknown. Adapted from an old recipe in my mom’s collection.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Combine…
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
Store combined spices in a sealed container and use as needed.
Image

Make on Sundays and pack up for an easy weekday breakfast on-the-go, or enjoy as a snack with iced coffee and a good book.

Fit for a Friday

Happy almost-weekend! I don’t know about you guys, but this week has been a rough one around here. Perhaps it was the gray clouds and daily rainstorms, or maybe just a mid-month slump, but the days were definitely dragging. Unfortunately my week isn’t quite over – I have a work event on Saturday – but I’m still grateful for the weekend and some downtime with J. Hopefully that downtime also includes some ice cream or fro-yo, just sayin’. Here’s this week’s Fit for a Friday – a compilation of musings, findings, and favorite links I’ve stumbled across in the past week.

This is a great outline of some basics everyone starting out needs to make their first home actually feel like home. Funny story re: Wine Bottle Opener. The one we currently own and love actually came from one of J’s neighbors when he lived in the outskirts of Pittsburgh. We picked up a bottle right after he moved not even thinking about the cork, and he ended up knocking on his neighbor’s door in hopes of borrowing an opener. The lady who answered handed over a very new looking 3-piece set and insisted he keep it because she never drinks. In retrospect, the poor woman was probably just terrified by the strange man at her door. Sidenote – if you actually know J, you know he is pretty much the least intimidating guy around. Just don’t try to steal a fry off his plate.

(original photo source)

Brown sugar buttermilk cake? Fluffy white chocolate frosting? Salty macadamia nuts? This cake sounds like perfection. I also love that the presentation actually looks like something I am capable of accomplishing (no triple-layered ombre frosted cakes for this gal.) Now I just need an excuse to make it!White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cake.. A simple brown sugar buttermilk cake with white chocolate frosting, topped with salty Macadamia Nuts!

You’re welcome. ❤

Anything awesome you’ve seen around the web this week? Have a great weekend, friends!

Fit for a Friday

Displaying photo.JPG

Happy Friday! And perhaps more importantly, Happy National Doughnut Day! Anyone partake in a particularly delicious doughnut (donut?) today?

It’s been a busy week around our little nest. I had an evening work commitment Wednesday, and J flew off to Florida yesterday for a four-day conference. Since J will be away, my BFF Krista is coming to keep me company! I’m really looking forward to our weekend. Since I left Pittsburgh three years ago, the majority (if not all…?) of our visits have been centered around some life event – bridal and baby showers, weddings, bachelorette parties, etc. As awesome as those events are, it will be nice to just have a weekend together to catch up without the distractions.

But anyway, let’s get on with the weekend! Here’s Fit for a Friday – a compilation of musings, findings, and favorite links I’ve stumbled across in the past week.

Um, Nom. I’m a sucker for a good scone, but these aren’t just scones, these are S’MORE SCONES. I can’t think of anything better to pair with my Sunday coffee.

2

I love going through all the great entries in “The 10th Annual Smartest Coolest Homes” Contest. The spaces are all so unique and fun, and I have been getting great inspiration. One concept I can totally get behind: less is more. I like that small spaces require you to get rid of the clutter and truly appreciate everything you have. Less is more. Except when it comes to shoes. And cupcakes. In those cases, more is always better.

On the same note of Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool contest, this article from The Washington Post gives some awesome ways to utilize console tables in a small home. I also love the use of the chest of drawers next to the sofa as shown in the picture below. Storage is key in a little nest, and I could definitely see us copying this in the future.

  • and lastly, this little inspiration reminder

Enjoy the weekend, friends! xx